SAN ANTONIO - – According to Childsafe, 90% of child sex assault victims stay silent -- something that Kenneth Anderlitch understands.
It took years for Anderlitch to come forward with his painful story.
“A little over five years ago, coming to terms with that,” he said.
Anderlitch said he never had access to an organization like Childsafe in Bexar County.
“Last year we saw 5,200 plus clients, and 76% of them were sexual abuse cases,” said Maliha Imami of Childsafe. “Our services are forensic interviews, wrap-around services, advocacy, case management and clinical therapy.”
As Childsafe’s chief advancement officer, Imami leads the organization’s financial and fundraising teams. She is working hand-in-hand with Anderlitch, who is about to run 223 miles to raise money for the care center.
“Each child takes close to $1,000 to get them through services, a full year. So, I would like to raise $10,000 to help at least 10 children start their path towards recovery,” Anderlitch said.
Over the last four months, Anderlitch has juggled a full time job, part time school and training.
He said the run wouldn’t be possible without his Road 2 Healing support team, which includes Roel Gonzales and Ben Adan, who have also run routes hundreds of miles long.
Anderlitch will take off at 4 a.m. Thursday from the Capitol building in Austin and plans to finish at the Lexington Bridge in Corpus Christi on Saturday afternoon.
He said the work and planning will be worth it, knowing he is helping break the cycle of sexual abuse, stigma and unearned shame.
“The shame and guilt lives with you into your adulthood, and most of the time, especially for men, it’s difficult for them to come out and speak about sexual abuse,” Imami said.
Imami said just like domestic violence, reports of child sexual assault have dropped off during quarantine.
“In the initial stages of the pandemic, the reports went down because 20% of reports are made by teachers, physicians, people who have access to children. Children feel safe they can report it,” she said.
When lockdowns were lifted, domestic abuse reports skyrocketed. Imami said child sex assault reports spiked, just not as much, citing the difficulty for children making an outcry to family members who usually know the perpetrator.
“99% of the perpetrators are known and trusted by the child,” Imami said.
Anderlitch said that’s why he tells his own story and advocates for children, knowing the pain of silence and the relief of freedom.
“Hopefully somewhere down the line those 10 children, one of them, will carry the torch and help out another individual,” he said.
Anderlitch hopes to create a ripple effect of healing, love and inner peace.
To find out more about Anderlitch’s run or to donate to his cause, head to his website.
Anyone is also welcome to follow along as he runs, through his Facebook page.